England put up a wonderful team effort to clinch the third Test at Southampton and thus square the five-match series 1-1. Here’s a look at the men who made England’s splendid comeback possible.
Alastair Cook: There was so much pressure on the England captain going into the Test. Another loss, and it would have been almost certain that Cook’s place as a captain in the team was under threat. Under the circumstances, Cook showed a lot of maturity to come up with a big knock. It wasn’t his best, and was far from a pleasant looking knock. However, what mattered was the number of runs he got on the board. Under the circumstances, Cook’s 95 in the first innings was worth its weight in gold although he never looked in control. In the second innings, he looked at lot more at home during his unbeaten 70. These are danger signs for India.
Gary Ballance: The England number three has been in exceptional form throughout the series, and carried on the good work at Southampton as well. His 156 was a high-quality knock. Not only did his knock put England in a position of great strength, it also gave struggling Cook time to play his innings with ease. Since Ballance was timing the ball exceedingly well, Cook could concentrate on his own problems without worrying about the team. With every such knock, Ballance is cementing his place in the side as the team’s new number three, and Jonathan Trott will find it difficult to force his way back in.
Ian Bell: Like captain Cook, Bell was also desperate for runs going into the series. He had been found out in the series numerous times before, as he was unable to deal with the rising ball outside the off stump. A couple of his dismissals were really embarrassing, as he seemed clueless. Bell was lucky that Ishant wasn’t around to trouble him with his pace, and took the opportunity to play himself back to form with a sublime century. Once he was in his groove, there was no stopping back. Another danger signal for team India.
James Anderson: As always, Anderson has been the go to man as far as wickets are concerned. He was called upon again at Southampton, and did not disappoint. He picked up wickets at will, to keep India on the back foot forever. Anderson’s dismissals were of key batsmen. In the first innings, he sent back Dhawan, Kohli, Dhoni and Jadeja and, in the second innings, he added the scalps of Rohit Sharma and Dhoni again, to be adjudged man of the match.
Moeen Ali: It was not for his batting, but his spin bowling that Ali features in this list. He was widely expected to be England weak link in the bowling line-up. In fact, after the first Test, many thought he would be replaced with a proper spinner. India clearly underestimated his prowess as a spinner though, and had to pay for it with a heavy, embarrassing loss.
--By A Cricket Analyst